ATHENS, Ala. – As students returned to class in Athens City Schools Wednesday morning, many parents packed more than just school supplies in their child’s backpack.
“She has Lysol and some wipes so she knows to keep her hands and her station clean,” said parent Tiffany Shoulders, as she dropped off her daughter Morgan for her first day of 1st grade at the iAcademy at Athens Elementary School.
Tiffany, along with many other parents, was pleased when the Athens City School Board of Education voted to require masks in schools on Monday. But some parents at Monday’s meeting expressed their frustration with the mask requirement, saying the last-minute decision gave them little time to consider other options.
“I could have homeschooled. I could have put my kid in private school. If we would have known this and we would have had a say, I would fully support it,” said Laura Leigh Prater after Monday’s meeting. “But not having a say and taking our children to the tours last week and taking our children to see the class list and then the next day telling us masks are not optional.. that’s our problem.
Athens City Schools Superintendent Beth Patton said the decision to require masking in schools was not an easy one, and she hopes masks will become optional in the near future.
But some parents, like Shoulders, are glad the district decided to implement the policy.
“I’m OK with the mask policy. Do whatever you’ve got to do to keep the kids safe,” Shoulders said.
First-grader Morgan said she didn’t mind the mask either. She says she’s just excited to meet her new teacher and get to see her friends in person.